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Areas to stay for longer visits in southern Peloponnese and Crete

We're planning an extended stay in Greece with at least one month in Crete and another in the Peloponnese. I would prefer to rent one place for the entire time in each area, but never having been before I'm not familiar with how long it takes to get around from place to place.
On Crete would it make more sense to stay 2 weeks on the west end and 2 weeks on the east, or can get to see most parts of the island fairly easily from somewhere central. We are open to both public transport and/or renting a car if only for a day or two at a time. Ideally I would like to be in a smaller village or within walking distance to one (20 minutes) and even better to be close to beaches.
For the Peloponnese I was thinking of somewhere in Messinia, again small village near the coast. We will definitely have a car there

Posted by
3340 posts

We had 2 weeks in the Peloponnese in 2018, and 2 weeks on Crete in 2019. We had a rental car both trips, driving generally clockwise, sleeping a night or two in one place before moving on. Having double that time would’ve allowed settling down more, while still seeing sights.

So other than taking a public bus back from the Knossos Palace site to Iraklio on our first full day on Crete, we traveled by car. Other than the fast, multi-lane highway running along the north coast, roads were mostly slower 2-lane roads between towns, and lots of switchbacks in mountainous areas. If you’re thinking of making various out-and-back day trips from your rented place to see much of Cretan sights, I’m not certain how convenient or doable that is without your own wheels. Splitting the big island west/east with 2 stays would certainly reduce your overall round trip travel time. Getting to unique places like the Lasithi Plateau and numerous Minoan sites will work better if you’re not having to drive so much of the day. One of our favorite places from last year’s trip, Kato Zakros, is a small settlement on the southeast coast. It might be too remote to use as a base from which to explore the whole eastern half of Crete, but it is idyllic, and on the beach. If you’re looking for a single spot for your whole time on Crete, rather than bigger cities and resorts along the north coast, consider Pitsidia, south. It’s a short walk to the beach, and close to the phenomenal Phaistos Minoan site, and central enough to get to other places without going the greatest distance.

Are you looking at just the southern Peloponnese? We were in Kalamata for Easter Eve and Easter morning, but didn’t make it farther west in Messinia. Our longer stay was farther south, in Aeropoli, but it’s quite farther south - wonderful Mani Peninsula drives from there. If you’re considering seeing some of the northern Peloponnese, too, maybe a couple weeks in the northeast, in Napflio, with the rest in Messinia?

Posted by
757 posts

You didn't say when you are going which can make a big difference on how crowded it will be almost anywhere in Greece

I stayed on Crete in Chania on the west side of the island. It's one of Greece's nicest towns, albeit not a small village. It was a great base to explore the west of the island. Can't help with the rest of the island but it is the largest of the Greek Islands so splitting your time between the west and east would be best.

Your best option for Messinia area near/on the coast would be Korini, Methoni or Pylos, all filled with Greek character and charm.

While Crete offers good bus service your best option is to rent a car to see the more out of the way and traditional areas. A car is recommended even more for the Peloponnese regardless of where you stay.

The two best guide books for the Peloponnese are Bradt's Guide and the best is the Cadogan Guide.

Posted by
5904 posts

Our Greek friends strongly suggested that we spend all two weeks on the western side of Crete which we did. We only went east to see Knossos and the Archeological Museum in Heraklion. We spent a couple of nights on the southern coast and if we return, we would want to spend more time there. We stayed in Loutro. I will interested in following your trip planning.
As mentioned above, you will encounter mountainous driving in Crete and on the Peloponnese so drives will be longer and more difficult than expected when only looking at a map.

Posted by
19 posts

The time of this trip is hoping to be next fall (2021). I was going to be this fall but with Covid and American's not being able to travel to the EU we have put it off. So.. Sept through Oct.? We are retired have a lot of flexibility.
After reading these few posts I am rethinking the "whole month in one place" idea. That came mainly from wanting to slow down and really get the feel of a place. We have done years of traveling and spending all our time driving around trying to see all the sites before moving on. My husband is a retired archaeologist, you get the picture ;). Last few trips have been staying one week before moving on and that was nice, but still...
So a new option, one week in Athens area (that was always in the plans) 2-3 weeks on Crete, west side but looking at Pitsidia in the south might be fun with a car, it seems close to the highway. Then splitting the time in the Peloponnese into two, 2 week spots, north and south?
Finally, the other islands. If you could spend one week relaxing on one of the less touristy islands doing nothing but hiking and sitting in taverna watching the ocean, which one would it be?

Posted by
757 posts

I travel to Greece every October, unfortunately not this year due to virus and find it an ideal time to be there. Less tourists, lower prices and weather still nice without the heat of summer.

Most islands will have far fewer tourists so even some of the more over-the-top ones may be OK.

However, my favorites are:

Amorgos
Tinos
Chios
Lesvos

All have most what you are looking for and many still retain their "Greek" character.

Other options:

Naxos
Sifnos
Milos
Astypalea

Lots of choices so you can check out this website for even more to consider:
https://www.greektravel.com/greekislands/

Posted by
19 posts

Thanks tommyk5! Wow great web site. How does one choose?, which is why I initially thought to put the islands off for this trip. Maybe we'll be like you and go back every fall to a different island. One can always dream!

Posted by
3340 posts

Gwen M, late Sept/early Oct is when we were in Crete last year, and the weather was pleasant, and no enormous crowds. Some places, we were the only ones there, and some sights had hardly anyone else. We got in the water at Kato Zakros, although it wasn’t high beach season at that point, but the small gathering of people were still enjoying the water and beach in the early fall.

Pitsidia had a fair number of German tourists. Apparently a lot of Germany has vacation time in September, and the couple who owned and ran our B&B, she was German, and he was Greek. We were the only no -Germans staying there.

I can’t tell you anything about the far west of Crete. Most of our 2 weeks was in the eastern half of Crete; Hania was as far northwest as we traveled, and the Samaria Gorge the farthest southwest, but there’s so much to see and do, and the eastern half (again, Lasithi Plateau is a must) offers a lot! Samaria Gorge was still open, but when the rainy season comes, sometime in October, it shuts for the season.

Posted by
2908 posts

Here are some places to check out:

If I were going to pick one place in Crete to stay for one month, I'd consider Rethymnon. It's not a village but a small city, centrally located with nice restaurants and good transportation connections.

We also might consider Elounda (north western) partly because we really liked our apartment at Elounda Garden Suites.

For a small beach village, Paleochora in the south had a relaxed vibe with good hiking options and ferry transportation to nearby villages- we took the bus there from Chania and stayed for a few days.

For a small village in the Peloponnese, we liked Kardaymyli. We had a car so I'm not sure about transportation connections.

It sounds like a perfect plan - spending one month in Crete and another in the Peloponnese!

Posted by
1567 posts

It is good you are rethinking the one month idea--not that that wouldn't be amazing, it is just that the drives are long (but main highways quite modern and efficient) so I think two bases in the Peloponnese would be ideal. It's all gorgeous, so pick what sounds good to you, map/time the drives, and choose that way. There are a few sites you can see en route, and that helped us maximize our ten days and see many archaeological sites while hiking/enjoying nature on days in between. We stayed in Nafplio, Kardamyli, and a small place called Zatouna. I'd recommend any of them. Instead of another island, I'd explore Crete and the Peloponnese exhaustively, then wrap up in Athens, good luck!